HBC 672

The Serpens Nebula is a stellar nursery almost 1,300 light-years away. The Hubble Space Telescope‘s near-infrared vision captured the shadow cast by a fledgling star’s brilliant light being blocked by is planet-forming disk. The Sun-like star known as HBC 672 is surrounded by a debris ring of dust, rock, and ice—a disk that is too small and too distant to be seen, even by Hubble. But like a little fly that wanders into the beam of a flashlight shining on a wall, its shadow is projected large upon the cloud in which it was born. In this Hubble image, that feature—nicknamed the “Bat Shadow”—spans approximately 200 times the length of our solar system. It is visible in the upper right portion of the picture.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA / STScI

Looking Toward the Center of the Galaxy

This animation looks toward the center of the Milky Way in three bands of light not visible to the naked eye. The near-infrared image (Hubble) shows the knots of cloud edges and emission that mark the plane of our galaxy. The mid-infrared image (Spitzer) highlights the clouds of gas and dust and star forming regions. The X-ray image (Chandra) tracks the most luminous and powerful stars in the area conspicuously revealing the galactic center region itself, including the million-solar mass black hole at the center. Several other X-ray sources associated with massive star clusters are also visible.

Video Credit: NASA / ESA / STScI